Shooting Snakes

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Eutectic posted this 6 days ago

Some people hate snakes, I can understand somewhat if they have been bitten in the past, often it is just unfounded fear. Snakes have a useful purpose. If I shot a rat snake in my Uncle's barn there would have been hell to pay, not for the snake but for ME. The snake hunted rats 24/7 and my Uncle did not have to feed the snake.

Rattlesnakes and copperheads in the barn were another matter; horses are more valuable than the snake. There was a bounty on poisonous snakes near the barn. I wanted the bounty, the bounty paid for a full box of 22?s.

When hiking or fishing I do not shoot snakes. Out in the wild the snake has just as much right to be there as I do. Still, I carry snake loads when I am hiking. There is always at least one or two in my revolver. Why do I do this? The answer has to do with doctors and not snakes.

If you are bitten the first question a doctor is going to ask is "what species of snake was it". Antivenin is poly-valent so why ask? Antivenin is not without risk, some reactions are serious. The doctor wants to make sure it was a venomous snake. Most folks are not up on their herpetology, and being bitten makes things other than identifying the snake important.  

The correct answer to ?what species of snake? is "here is the snake". If you hand the doctor a live snake he or she may get excited. To give the correct answer with no drama you need a dead snake, a dead snake will make everyone happy.

My sister-in-law recently demonstrated a different approach. While walking to the mail box a copperhead bit her. This is Georgia and copperheads are found everywhere, even in suburban Atlanta. To identify the snake she pulled out her cell phone and took a picture of the serpent. My brother-in-law had revenge in mind but the snake had wisely departed.

If you have a 22 LR or 22 Magnum revolver CCI makes shot loads. The 22 Magnum is slightly better than the 22 LR, a little more effective range. You need to test as results vary with different revolvers. The limited range will surprise you. My Ruger Single Six was good on snake size targets out to 6 feet with 22 Magnums. I used to carry my Single Six on outings, snakes with legs changed that.

I have never had to shoot a snake, however on three occasions snakes of the two legged persuasion have needed encouragement to behave. A holstered pistol is a powerful deterrent, but it agitates two legged socialist snakes who seem to think the great outdoors would be greater without guns. Open carry is also an invitation for an adversary to overpower you and take your gun. You cannot watch your six 24/7 so a concealed gun is more appropriate. Two legged snakes are larger, so more punch than a 22 is comforting. I have settled on a 2 or 3 inch 38 Special as good snake medicine. Two shot loads up front and then +P hollowpoints will deal with all known snakes.

Shot loads are harder to find for centerfire cartridges. The demand is low, so most stores do not carry them. Mail order is the way to get them, CCI makes 9mm Luger, 38 Special and 44 Special shot loads. The cost is steep, but you do not need many. Don?t expect a large increase in effective range, even 44?s only add a few feet.

If you cast bullets you probably have gas checks. If you don't, you can punch wads out of cardboard using a case sharpened using a deburring tool. Reloaders have been making shot cartridges for a century or more. There have been several good articles on making handgun shot shells in The Fouling Shot and the CBA forum, no need to go into that here.

Speer shot capsules let you make excellent shot loads for 38 and 44 revolvers. The problem with Speer shot capsules is they are fragile. They are designed to break on firing, releasing the shot. If not held securely, the first shot will pull the capsule on the second shot and tie up the gun. If you decide to carry a standard round in the first chamber the problem is even greater.

You must crimp the capsules, but if you crimp too much, the capsule will crack. If you crimp too little the capsule will pull on recoil and there is no way to test the rounds besides firing a round next to them!

The solution is to apply rubber cement to the capsule above the base before seating and then wipe off the excess. Allow the rubber cement to dry and then lightly crimp. The glued capsule will hold against full loads and still fire normally.

Preventing snakebite is easier than treating a bite.

In cold weather snakes hibernate, but in cool weather they seek a sunny spot to get warm. Watch where you step, most snakebites happen when people step on a snake. Be cautious when jogging on backcountry trails, if you cannot see ahead slow down. Watch where you put your hands when climbing.

Be specially careful in campgrounds or around a lean-to. Camping areas attract rodents, rodents attract snakes. Snakes are active at night in warm weather. Use a light, never walk in the dark. Go slowly, most snakes want nothing to do with you and will quickly leave if given the opportunity. This is not true of the human variety.
Steve

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RicinYakima posted this 5 days ago

Interesting post! Having lived in the high steppes for over 50 years now, I have only shot one rattlesnake. My friend and I were sitting under a tree, float fishing for trout in a pond. A three foot western diamondback was six inches from his thigh, sensed him and was starting to rattle.  Shot him a could of inches behind the head. Only snake I have killed since I left Viet Nam. 

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 5 days ago

In our area we have rattlers, copperheads, corals and cottonmouths. 

Copperheads are found in more rural areas, corals around the garden and rattlers in the sandy area's of the beachfronts. But the damn cottonmouths, they are everywhere there is water near. Underneath many our bridges over water and jetties into the gulf are made of large pieces of broken concrete or granite. These are prime and popular fishing spots for land bound anglers. They are also home to the cottonmouths. Dropping items down into the crevices of these area are best left there. Anytime I have fished these areas I carry a Bond Arms .45 LC / /410 derringer. Bites from cottonmouths can be painful at the least and sometimes deadly. 

  

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys, Good Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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max503 posted this 5 days ago

A friend who travels the country says he sees more snakes here in the St. Louis region than anywhere else in the country.  But at least in my neck of the woods, venomous snakes are few and far between.  I almost stepped on a garter snake two days ago.  I don't think I would like having to deal with copperheads and such on a regular basis.  We generally don't kill snakes around here because such a tiny percentage of them are hazardous.  If I see a copperhead I stop and take pictures.  They are a handsome snake.

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Eddie Southgate posted this 5 days ago

I kill all the poison snakes I see and leave the rest go . 

Grumpy Old Man With A Gun......Do Not Touch .

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rhbrink posted this 5 days ago

In Missouri all snakes are protected. When I was a youngin' there were a lot of rattle snakes in the area where I now live West Central Mo. I haven't seen one in years, there were areas when mushroom hunting in the Spring you carried a pistol and dispatched any rattlers that you might come across. Didn't know about any silly laws back then and didn't care! CHOOTEM' There were some cotton mouth moccasins in the low river bottoms where Truman Lake is now. I haven't seen one of those in years either. I did have a copperhead try to get in the boat this past Spring while crappie fishing, I saw the snake swimming out from the bank but didn't pay much attention to it as it's common to see water snakes. My fishing buddy got pretty excited when the snake got close to his end and he realized that it was a copperhead. We did persuade him to go elsewhere with few swift whacks with the boat paddle. Lots of Garter snakes around, some Black snakes, a few Blue and Green Racers, Bull snakes and I found a Hog Nose snake one time. 

RB

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sluggo posted this 5 days ago

Almost all the snakes where i live are beneficial, except for some of the ones that wear business suits.

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Bud Hyett posted this 4 days ago

There is another problem with snakebites. With modern fertilizers being used, snakes slithering along the ground can build up traces amounts of these fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides on their mouths. Biting someone will infuse these trace amounts inside the victim's body. These are potent and can cause reactions, infections, or even drive a person into shock.

I've shot two snakes within reach and showing an aggressive attitude before even identifying the breed.  Extremely rare, yes. Paranoid, possibly. However, one cause of my bone marrow cancer could be agricultural chemicals. (Chemistry degree with working in a lab or being a machinist with the new spray cutting oil lubricants can also be a cause.). The technology that brings us many wondrous things also has a down side that few know or comprehend.

If they are out of range of a shotload, I let them go. While I agree that almost all snakes can be beneficial, any within striking distance will be shot. 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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Little Debbie posted this 4 days ago

I’ve lived in rattlesnake country for most of my life and have never killed one, much less any other snake. The 3 or 4 rattlesnakes I’ve encountered were looking for an escape route, not to attack. Had I ever encountered one in my yard or garden I’d have killed it, with regret. In my experience the only people I’ve seen bitten fall into two categories: drunks handling them being bitten in the hands or arms. And one gal bitten in the hand when she and her family were collecting rattlesnakes to sell to some who used the venom to create an anti venom product. Ironic I guess. I’ve collected a lot of rattles from the snakes that lay in the roads like sticks in the evening for what I assume is the residual warmth and they get run over.

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max503 posted this 4 days ago

People get a really cavalier attitude along the Snake Road in So Illinois.  Lots of folks go there to see the snakes migrate between the bluffs and the swamp.  I had to tell one "expert" to please back away from a moccasin.  He was crouched down and his knee was less than a foot from the snake's open mouth.  But he had to get a good pic with his phone.  I didn't want to have to drive him to the ER.  

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beagle6 posted this 4 days ago

In my experience, rattlers and copperheads will get out of your way given a chance. Cottonmouths are another story and are very aggressive.

beagle6

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RicinYakima posted this 4 days ago

Basic Training at Ft Polk, LA, was a real eye opener for me and the cottonmouth. 

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rhbrink posted this 4 days ago

In my experience, rattlers and copperheads will get out of your way given a chance. Cottonmouths are another story and are very aggressive.

beagle6

That's my experience too, cottonmouths are very territorial and just down right mean!

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M3 Mitch posted this 4 days ago

I do try to avoid killing snakes, even rattlers, because they kill a lot of mice. 

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Wineman posted this 3 days ago

Venomous snakes in the wild are part of the ecosystem, and I don't bother them. My dad complains about all the rodent damage to his property but every rattler (including ones eating said rodents) get a shovel if it is in reach (which is probably too close). I live on the WUI and have killed one Pacific Rattlesnake that was in my back yard. In 17 years we have not seen any more. A bike ride around the riparian trails last year had one crossing the trail. I gave him a wide berth but stayed close so nobody else would run into it. When it got into the leaves and brush, it was almost impossible to see. Luckily in CA the Cottonmouth is not here, I not sure I would be so generous if we crossed paths in the wild at close range.

Dave

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Lee Guthrie posted this yesterday

Yes, Missouri says it's not legal to kill a snake.  I probably shouldn't mention how many (and whom) Mo. Conservation Agents I've watched shoot snakes.  If it's a pit viper I intend to kill it.  One of my farms must have been a snake sanctuary in a previous lifetime: snake victims there have been massasauga rattlesnakes, timber rattlers, diamondback rattlers, losts of copperheads, and quite a few cottonmouths.  I have never seen a rattler pursue a human, but have some copperheads.  Cottonmouths seem to want to find a human to bite (me on at least 3 occasions), and one in particular chased me down a logging trail.  Seemed it took offense to me stepping on it so it struck me right at knee level on the outside of my denim jeans: don't know if it was a dry bite or if it only latched onto denim.  In turn I took offense at snake trying to envenomate me, so I drew the Officer's Model .45 I was carrying, took careful aim at center of  snake about 2 inches behind its head, and BANG.  Oops.  Bad decision alert.   Either the heat from the muzzle blast excited it's heat detecting pits (cool late March morning), or it didn't appreciate having a half moon shaped cookie cut out of it's back, because it seemed to launch itself at me.  I fired again, but missed.  About the same time a more primitive part of my brain suggested that I get the hell out of dodge, so down the logging trail I went.  Several yards later I stopped and checked my six -- the damned thing was still coming at me, so the sensible thing to do was to attempt to shoot it again.  Turns out that might  NOT  have been the most sensible thing to do because the damned thing seemed to speed up.  (turns out they can slither a LOT faster than you would think)  Turn and run.  Stop and shoot.  Repeat.  Repeat.  (turns out that quickly moving snakes are not the easiest target)  Down to one round and trail getting rough.  Stop, think "front sight", and stand still while it continued to slither at me, and BANG!   Well, there went one side of a snake head.  Out of ammo.  Not good.  Snake no longer chasing me, but not completely dead.  At least not dead enough.  Get stick and club it senseless.  Hold snake down with the beating stick while prying upward at mouth with pencil sized stick.  Real real white mouth inside and "my, what a large nasty looking fang you have".  Hmmm, about that time I recalled that most people get envenomated while screwing around with a pit viper at close range.  About an hour later my conservation agent partner confirmed what was obvious:  the dead viper was in fact a cottonmouth.  That was the first encounter with one of those dusky black skinned white mouthed devils. (they do have a subdued pattern under that, but you have to get a lot closer than I would recommend to see it)

Another time was with a half dozen or so of its extended family.   

From that point on my farm carry pistol became a Blackhawk in .45 Colt:  the first 2-3 chambers filled with #8 shot loads (all that a Speer shot capsule would hold, OR what would fit between a gas check seated over powder and another gas check inverted over the shot with just enough roll crimp to hold it in place, then hot glued in for good measure). 

Black snakes are welcome, but are given the hairy eyeball to make sure they are long, thin, and shiny black. 

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rhbrink posted this yesterday

Now that's a good story right there!

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Eutectic posted this 8 hours ago

During my tour in Vietnam my crew was assigned guard duty on a bridge over a river. There was a nice bunker already there so I had them set up the machine gun inside and move the PRC-10 radio into the bunker. Screams from the bunker and sounds of violence indicated something amiss. The bunker turned out to be occupied by a cobra who was not pleased with the new inhabitants. The snake made a fast exit and turned to stand his ground ground outside the bunker. He rose up to 3 feet high and opened his hood to show he meant business.  My radio operator responded with a hail of radio batteries. I drew my pistol and proceeded to miss the small skinny target. The snake decided given enough time we might connect and made a fast exit into the jungle. 

No one was interested in standing guard in the bunker, preferring to sit on top of the bunker in the rain. 

Steve

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max503 posted this 7 hours ago

I've never known a snake to be aggressive.

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RicinYakima posted this 6 hours ago

Steve, we were always happy to have the mongoose's around when we were digging in the dirt or working on bunker lines. Some of our bridges were only workable in the dry season to build embankments and do concrete work.  We would leave bunkers for the next years work. 

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rhbrink posted this 2 hours ago

I've never known a snake to be aggressive.

You've never met a cottonmouth! 

One time on Table Rock Lake I had two copperheads approach the boat every time I got near their little chunk of rocky bank that had a waterfall on it. And I wanted to fish the water fall really bad, had to give up and let the copperheads have it. I have been told that you will never see a copperhead in the water but to date I have seen three. Every time the water temperatures were warmed than the air, Spring time. 

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